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Opinion

Democracy, Capitalism Loosening in Former Soviet Union, Union is Being Missed

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All stats from pewglobal.org and images from englishrussia.com

Intellectuals of the early decades now tell the present days younger generation how another super power used to exist in this world parallel and side by side to the present day super power. A power that kept the imperialists in their limits. A multipolar world then was much better than now, where nobody is there to prevent the western superpowers from opening newer fronts.

If the socialist economy fell down in 1991, the capitalist economy is now falling down due to recession. On the one hand democratic countries like US, Russia, Greece and India are seeing various revolts and movements showcasing anger among the public for their government. On the other hand non democratic countries like Arab World and north Africa saw similar revolutions. Then which one is better? Non democratic like China, or Democratic like India?

Without putting us in this long and old debate, we analyse the situation in the three countries of former Soviet Union after 20 years: Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia, which adopted the democratic government.

A study by the Pew Research Center shows the result that after two decades of the collapse of USSR, the people in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania are unhappy with the direction in which their country is going. Energy, Enthusiasm which was on top of of everyone after the collapse for the democracy and rights has now waned considerably in last two decades. While many believe that the changes which their country underwent all these years have done nothing good but given a negative impact to public morality, economy and law and order and standard of living.

Democracy and Capitalism

Source: pewglobal.org

Russia, in the name of democracy has hardly enjoyed any benefits, as a stronger opposition lacks in the country which can give tough competition to powerful Putin. Ukraine has seen bad politics, interference by western diplomacy and colour revolution, whereas Lithuania, unlike Russia and Ukraine believe that changes in past 20 years have done good for them. 49% of the people are satisfied with the changes while 30% says no.

Despite the belief that capitalist economy is better than socialist only 42% of the Russians now approve a change to market economy, just before the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 the count was 54%. The change of 11% fall. In Lithuania 76% used to approve in 1991 whereas now only 45%, In Ukraine this has slipped to 34% from 54%.

Who is benefited?

Source: pewglobal.org

There is a general feeling among these countries that the only benefit during these two decades were enjoyed by politicians and business elites, whereas common people were left behind, unlike Soviet Union where everybody was considered equal. The only thing which people like about democracy in their country is the improved judiciary and free media.

The transparency in the coverage of Moscow protests by Russian media is indeed a colour of democracy. Public is able to protest freely against their own government is democracy unlike Arab world where military was ordered to attack their own civilians. The public might be protesting against Putin as they don’t want him or his party yet again for another 4 or 8 years, but still if we look at the stats in 1991 just before the former Soviet Union was officially dissolved, there was a general optimism among the public for a change towards a multiparty system.

Change to a Multiparty System can Solve the problems?

Almost 61% of Russians then believed a change to multiparty system will be good for their society, now that belief has shrunk to 50%. Similarly, in Lithuania the count was 75% back in 1991, now only 52%. In Ukraine the optimism has slipped from 72% to 35%, but it is true that in all the three surveyed countries, the youth, the well educated class and the urban population only supports the change to multiparty system.

Source: pewglobal.org

Vladimir Putin has all the qualities of a strong leader, who has transformed the broken Russia into a powerful economy within past 12 years. He has brought back the respect to Russia which was lost after the break up of Soviet Union. Russia now is now leading in race to become a military as well as economy super power. Unlike strong leader of Arab world, Vladimir Putin is far more democratic also. Despite the protest against him, only 32% of Russian feel that they need a democratic form of government compared to 51% in 1991. When asked whether they should rely on democratic leader or strong ruler to solve their national problems only 3 in 10 Russians and Ukrainians chose democracy, whereas in Lithuania 52% prefer democratic leader now compared to 79% back in 1991.

When asked whether people are happy with the current state of democracy in the country, a large number of the people in all these three countries showed dissatisfaction with the present state of democracy and how it is working in their country when compared to the results in 1991. Moreover, in Lithuania and Ukraine this belief has only changed only in past two years. According to the survey by Pew Global in 2009, 60% of Lithuanians said they were dissatisfied now this feeling has spread to 72%. In Ukraine the same unhappiness has risen from 70% to 81%.

Just when the world lost confidence in socialist economy after the collapse of Soviet Union, these three countries lost the confidence in capitalist economy after the recession. 76% of Lithuanians were optimistic about switching to a market economy in 1991, now only 45% feel the same way. Among Ukrainians, optimism fell from 52% in 1991 to 34% after 20 years. Although, 42% of Russians currently endorse the free market approach, a 12-percentage-point drop since 1991, eight points of which occurred in just the last two years during recession.

Slipping confidence in the capitalism is due to the reason that the people don’t feel that their country is doing good in economy. In all the countries those who have not seen the life in Soviet Union or were too young when the giant collapsed are only the people who support capitalism and democracy.

Russians Missing the Soviet Union

Source: pewglobal.org

There is a feeling among majority of Russians that Soviet Union was a great place to live. According to the survey by pewglobal more than half of the
Russians believe that it is a great misfortune that Soviet Union now no longer exists. While only 36% disagree to this belief.

US and Russia who is better?

When asked about the influence of these countries whether positive or negative on Ukraine, Russia and Lithuania. The results were not very shocking. Majority of the people support Russia and Russian cause and its foreign policy rather than going the western way. While US enjoys positive influence on Lithuania with 73% of Lithuanians considering US as favourable and 20% considering it as unfavourable, Russia enjoys positive influence in Ukraine with 84% Ukrainians considering Russia as favourable and only 11% considering it as unfavourable

Views of European Union and NATO

Source: pewglobal.org

All the three countries surveyed considers EU important for economy and development and hence EU enjoys positive views, whereas NATO is considered as America’s military expansion towards these countries rather than a security network. Lithuania being involved in EU and being a member of NATO gives plus points to both the organization.

While 49% of Lithuanians think joining EU is a good thing, 31% doesn’t find any change, whereas 8% feel it is not a good thing. Lithuania being a member of NATO also backs the idea of Ukraine joining the security group. Whereas 72% in Russia and 51% in Ukraine oppose Ukraine joining NATO.

Source: pewglobal.org

It is true since the day the Soviet Union fell down, democracy ended in the world. After the collapse of Soviet Union we have seen more wars on small countries than ever before. But it is true as well that the world was on the brink of a real big war which could have turned into a nuclear war when both the super powers existed side by side.

The time when US is understanding that soon its supremacy could be taken over by Asian giants, US is welcoming warmer ties with as many countries possible. At this time rise of Russia, which is more open and transparent than before along with China, Europe and possibly India and Japan will lead us towards a multipolar world. Which would be more complex but peaceful.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

Opinion

The History Question: Is It Better to Remember or to Forget?

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Years ago, a philosopher by the name of George Santayana said a phrase that fuels many debates to this day. His original saying is “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, although, many sources now present it as variations of “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. The latter definitely has more substance to it in the light of the ongoing debate about how much history we should be learning and how.

Is It Better to Remember or Forget About the Past?

On one hand, Santayana was right. Learning about the past is essential in order for people to progress. One also shouldn’t overlook the importance of remembrance and paying respects to the dead, both those who pushed the progress forward and those who have fallen victims to major tragedies that could and should have been averted.

The main argument in favor of learning about the past is that its knowledge is necessary for preventing the same thing happening in the future. Having it one can see the signs and stop the tragedy before it gains momentum.

That’s sound in theory, but the reality is always different. For example, today people are surely forgetting, and the much-critiqued education system is only partially at fault here. Even the greatest of tragedies weren’t spared this fate. It’s a proven fact that about two-thirds of millennials today don’t know about the Holocaust, and this number is surely greater for generations that follow them. In the school history course, the subject of one of the greatest disasters in history is barely touched, if touched at all. And outside of a history classroom, one can only see small, but terrifying, glimpses of it at the Holocaust Museum and other museums that rarely attract many visitors. And now we are witnessing a rise of antisemitic crime.

Are these two facts related? Does the lack of awareness about the horrors done in the name of Aryan supremacy contribute to the fact that right-winged extremists seem to be gaining popularity again?

It does, but by how much? That is the question that no one can truly answer.

And what about other genocides? The Holocaust had the highest death toll, but it was far from the only genocide in history. And quite a few of those happened after World War 2 and before the memory of the atrocities against the Jews began to fade. This means that while forgetting history is a factor, it’s not the deciding factor in its repeats.

But what is that thing responsible for the reenactment of past mistakes and tragedies?

Learning. This is the important thing that is most often overlooked when citing Santayana’s famous saying. It’s not enough to learn about the past and know the facts of things that happened. It’s important to learn from those facts and put in place protections that will prevent them from happening again. And this is something that humanity, as a whole, has yet to succeed in doing.

Dwelling in the Past Can Be Just As Bad

One also shouldn’t forget that there is such a thing as “too much history”. The Bosnian War and genocide that happened there in the 1990s is a vivid example of how the past can be exploited by political powers. Used as a part of propaganda, which fueled the war, history can become a weapon in the hands of those who want to use it for their own goals.

And this is what humans have been doing since the dawn of time. There is always someone who will use any means necessary to achieve whatever it is they wish. This results in wars and genocides, and hundreds of smaller but no less devastating tragedies.

Therefore, the problem isn’t whether people should be learning history but human nature itself. Perhaps, teaching this can help fix this fundamental flaw and truly stop the worst of the past from repeating.

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Opinion

Is there such thing as cyberwar?

Alexandra Goman

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Two decades have passed after Arquilla and Ronfeldt in 1993 warned the public about an upcoming. They were also the first to introduce a concept of cyberwar and give an elaborated opinion. They referred to a conduct and preparation of military operations using information-related principles and also invoked a link between intelligence (the collection of information for political or military purpose) and cyber operations. Now, the scale of intelligence has significantly expanded.

Interestingly, before cyber appeared, there was a radio which was used for intelligence purposes and was weaponized later in the World War II. From that time on, electronic warfare became standard characteristics of a modern conflict. Despite this, there is a key difference between electronic warfare and a cyber one. Traditional electronic warfare aimed to guide, target, or protect weapons systems (Ibid., p. 24). In contrast, cyber makes today’s weapons and military systems smarter but also more vulnerable for an attack.

At the moment everyone still wonders what the whole idea of cyberwar means. There is no accepted interpretation or definition. Furthermore, many experts even say that such war does not even exist (or cannot be referred to the notion of “war”). Perhaps, it is due to the fact that a war in cyberspace has not yet happened. To make it clear, cyber capability has not actually killed anyone and a code has not been used as the use of force.

Similarly, the dangers of a nuclear bomb were recognized only after its use, the same goes to the notion of “nuclear war”. Although there have been many cyberattacks, none of them have been raised to the level of war because none of them, in fact, caused the level of damage which could be adhered to the level of a large-scale conflict.

Cyber warfare has derived from different aspects of conventional warfare and traditional definitions of war. It usually involves organized units within nation-state in offensive or defensive operations which are part of a war or a conflict.

In general, since cyber study is relatively new, there are many competing terms and definitions to explain cyber phenomenon. The following concepts – the revolution in military affairs, electronic warfare, information warfare, and cyber war – have been all offered to describe the new emerging area of conflict. Experts do not agree on any particular term, more often using different notions when talking about cyber issues. Nonetheless, it is vital to understand the facts of the 21st century similarly to the need that rose along with the invention of atomic reaction. A major concern now is no longer weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass disruption. (2009, p. 47).

One of the central elements to define a cyberwar, is that it has to meet the same criteria, applied to any other type of war. Vandalism or spying is an act of crime, but they do not start wars. So, assumingly, there has to be physical destruction and casualties in order to declare a war.

Therefore, a cyberwar should have real world damage similar to a conventional war. For this matter, it should probably take place in a digital world. What is not clear, however, is whether it should be fought exclusively in cyberspace or it can accompany a conventional attack too. This aspect is quite interesting, because cyberattacks can easily be used in combination with a kinetic attack and can multiply the force and power of the attacker.

In this case, it does not make sense to create a new term “cyberwar” as it falls down under the same definition of war. It is the same example when aerial bombings supported the attacks on the ground during the World War I, but in the end we called it a war, not a particular type of war. Consequently, cyber introduction resembles more a revolution in military affairs, rather that a new emerging type of warfare.

What is clear, though, is that the difference in definitions complicates the matters of regulating cyberspace and prevents achieving a common ground on cyber issues and/or developing new treaties and agreements between the states. So far there is no international agreement on the cyber principles, despite some attempts of the states to engage into negotiations (Budapest Conference on Cyberspace, the World Conference on International Telecommunications). There is, however, the Convention on Cybercrime, the first international agreement that addresses compute crime, adopted by the Council of Europe. Interestingly enough, Russia (as a part of the Council) neither signed nor ratified the agreement, whereas US (not part of the Council) recognized it and ratified it.

Apart from these difficulties in defining cyberwar, there has been a hyperbolic use of the word itself, mostly by media and tabloids (e.g. The Washington Post, “We are at cyberwar and we are our own enemy”; The New York Times, “How to prevent Cyberwar”; Zdnet, “Cyberwar: a guide to the frightening future of online conflict”; Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Are we expecting the First World Cyberwar?” etc.). They do not usually give any concrete information but are eager to use this term and apply it randomly to different cases just because it sounds good.  All in all, uninformed public use of the word has enormously contributed into the heat surrounding cyber implications.

Futher, cyberattacks are too often discussed equivalently, regardless of its impact. In this sense, minor cases like ransomware or phishing might be raised to the level of an armed attack (especially if they affect multiple computers worldwide). Yet, these cases are good examples of cybercrime, and crime is not a war. When individuals engage into this type of activity, they do not engage in a war.  The same goes for espionage in cyberspace. Catching a spy on one’s territory will certainly put pressure on bilateral relations, but it would not start a war.

This exaggeration of cyberattacks can be explained through securitization theory. The notion offered by the Copenhagen Security School describes how a certain concept can be politicized and securitized to the extent that it becomes a threat to national security (See Buzan, 2006).

To conclude, it should be mentioned that there is no guidance for the conduct of “cyberwar”.  There are no internationally agreed definitions and, to that extent, the whole idea of cyberwar so far seems unrealistic. At this moment technology is not sophisticated enough to ensure a military conduct entirely in cyberspace. Besides, any cyberattack of such scale would presumably result in a physical destruction, which consequently might provoke a conventional retaliation attack. This, in result, would cause a war we know for years, so there is no need to introduce a particular type of war. On another note, using cyber operations to support a conventional war and/or conflict is the way to go, but in this case it is just a revolution and modernization in military affairs.

I would be interested to hear your opinion about that in the comments below.

For further information see:

1)    A movie “War Games” (1983)

2)    Arquilla, J. and Ronfeldt, D. (1993). The Cyberwar is Coming! RAND Corporation, [online] Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP223.html

3)    Cetron, M. J. and Davies, O. (2009). Ten critical trends for cyber security. The Futurist, 43(5), pp. 40–49.

4)    Stiennon, R. (2015). There Will Be Cyberwar: How The Move To Network-Centric War Fighting Has Set The Stage For Cyberwar. Michigan: IT-Harvest Press.

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Opinion

On the issue of cyber security of critical infrastructures

Alexandra Goman

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There is a lot of talk in regards to cyberattacks nowadays. A regular user worries about its data and tries to secure by all means necessary. Yet, no one really thinks whether the power plants or nuclear facilities are well secured. Everyone assumes that they should be secured.

The reality, however, differs. According to many reports of cyber security companies, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks, targeting SCADA and ICS. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is used for the systems that control physical equipment – power plants, oil and gas pipelines, they can also control or monitor processes such as heating or energy consumption. Along with Industrial Control Systems (ICS) they control critical elements of industrial automation processes. Exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures can lead to the consequences of unimaginable scale. (These types of attacks are actually used in a cyberwar scenarios and hypothetical military settings).

Source: Fortinet, 2015

There are many reasons why these systems are vulnerable for attacks. First of all, the main problem is that these systems have an old design; they were built before they were connected to any networks. They were later configured to connect via Ethernet, and that’s when they became a part of a larger infrastructure. The more advanced SCADA system is becoming, the more vulnerabilities are these to exploit. The updates should be regular and on time. Secondly, there is a lack of monitoring. New devices that are connected allow remote monitoring, but not all devices have the same reporting capabilities. There are also authentication issues (weak passwords, authentication process), however, this is supposed to restrict unauthorized access (See Common SCADA Threats and Vulnerabilities at Patriot Technologies, Inc. Online).

In these scenarios, there is no certainty to know what is going to backfire because of the complexity of communications and power networks. This is also called a cascading effect of attacks. Not knowing who is connected to who may cause major disruptions. The example of the US East Coast power blackout in 2003 proves this point (a failure in one element of the grid spreads across other electrical networks). However, given this, it is also complicated for an attacker to predict consequences, if an attack executed. This kind of attack can easily escalate into more serious conflict, so it might not be the best option for states to employ such methods.

Moreover, there is a risk to damage a critical infrastructure unintentionally. That is if a virus or worm did not intend to target SCADA but happen to spread there as well. The uncontrollability of the code may seriously impair the desire to use it, especially when it comes to nation-states. For instance, in 2003 a worm penetrated a private network of the US Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and disabled a safety monitoring system for 5 hours. In 2009, French fighter jets could not take off because they were infected with a virus.

Indeed, a scenario where an attacker gains access to a SCADA system and manipulates with the system, causing disruptions on a large-scale, might be hypothetical but it does not make it less possible in the future. However, the only known case so far, which affected an industrial control centre, is Stuxnet. It did not result in many deaths, yet it drew attention of the experts on the plausibility of future more sophisticated attacks. These potential upcoming attacks might cause the level of destruction, comparable to that of a conventional attack, therefore resulting in war.

Further reading:

Bradbury, D. (2012). SCADA: a Critical Vulnerability. Computer Fraud & Security, 4, p. 11-14.

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